Exchanging Experiences, Expanding Opportunities

Entangled Inequalities, State, and Social Policies in Contemporary Brazil

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December, 2015

In line with developments observed in several Latin American countries, inequalities in Brazil have significantly declined since the Workers’ Party, PT, came to power in 2003. During the two administrations of former President Lula da Silva (2003-2006 and 2007- 2010) and the first administration of President Dilma Rousseff (2010-2014), economic growth, improvements in labor market, progress in deprived regions and pro-poor policies interacted positively as drivers of inequality reduction. But due to the recent economic stagnation and political instability, Rousseff, in her new administration (2015- 2018), is facing serious difficulties in sustaining the social gains obtained during the last twelve years. It seems that continuing the progress in inequality reduction in times of low economic growth requires deeper structural changes such as a progressive tax reform in order to effectively redistribute resources from the rich to the underprivileged classes. This paper discusses recent developments in Brazil from the perspective of entangled inequalities, a concept applied here with the objective of enlarging the narrow definition of inequality brought forward by hegemonic scholarship. After a brief introduction into the conceptual framework of entangled inequalities, the paper presents, in its second section, an overview of recent changes in Brazilian social structure. The third section discusses the role of the Brazilian state in reducing inequalities. Finally, recent developments in Brazil with regard to the entangled inequalities framework are assessed.

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